Since I know its certainly a big topic of discussion with the New York Jets drafting a QB I wanted to discuss the possibility of cutting the other Jets QBs, though clearly the person on the biggest hot seat is Mark Sanchez.
Mark Sanchez currently carries a cap charge of $12,853,125 which consists of $8,250,000 in base salary, $4,103,125 in bonus prorations, and a $500,000 workout bonus. The base salary is fully guaranteed with no offset provisions meaning the Jets are on the hook for $8.25 million in cash regardless of whether or not Sanchez plays for the Jets or another team. For the Jets to cut him they have to be willing to pay that money to Sanchez, likely within 30 days of cutting him.
The dead money cost of cutting Sanchez is $17,153,125, which results in a loss of $4.3 million in cap space. The Jets restructured the contract of LT D’Brickashaw Ferguson on Thursday to create over $5 million in cap space that in theory could have been used during draft weekend in the event the Jets drafted a QB. The restructure was not done after the 1st round so the way the draft unfolded played no part in the restructure. It would have just been preparing for the possibility.
To save cap room Sanchez could be designated a June 1 cut. If the Jets did that they would defer $4.8 million in dead cap charges to 2014. The Jets would actually gain $500,000 in cap space in 2013 if they made that decision, however with free agency all but finished it is hard to see the benefit of such a move. John Idzik and the Jets may simply be following in the mold of the Indianapolis Colts and Oakland Raiders where they take a year of financial pain to clear the books completely for next season. As I have discussed before the Jets could easily have close to $50 million in cap room next year by proper cap management, which began with the trade of Darrelle Revis.
Before cutting ties with Sanchez the Jets could look to trade him. The market for 1st round busts has always been there and most teams would be willing to pay somewhere between $2 and $3 million for a player like Sanchez. Compensation would not be much but the Jets could save more money if they did that. If a team was willing to take him for a late draft pick on Saturday at a $2 million salary the dead money would drop to about $15 million in 2013.
The Jets could also potentially restructure Sanchez’ contract. I cant see Sanchez being amenable to that scenario but it was a move the Jets made in 2006 with Chad Pennington where he was given a chance to compete and to earn his money back via performance. At the time the Jets were looking to start Patrick Ramsey, a 1st round bust of the Redskins, and after the Pennington restructure still drafted Kellen Clemens in the 2nd round. In such a move the Jets would prorate the money they owe Sanchez this year but he would need to take a backup salary from 2014 thru 2016 of $1 to $2 million year. Such a move really does not benefit either side as Sanchez’ dead money would increase in the future and his caps would still be around $4.5 million a year, too high of a charge for a backup. If the Jets did have offsets in his contract they would have more leeway in a paycut but they have no leverage now.
Tim Tebow currently carries a cap charge of $2,586,875. The Jets have already explored that trade market and it does not exist. The Jets still owe the Broncos $1,531,875 from last seasons trade so if Tebow is cut that money is shipped to Denver regardless and impacts the Jets salary cap this season.
The Jets paid David Garrard a $100,000 signing bonus to go along with a non-guaranteed $1 million base salary. If the Jets cut Garrard the only charge is the $100,000 signing bonus. Garrard has not played in the NFL in 2 years and is injury prone which could make the Jets cautious about moving forward with him now. ..Greg McElroy carries minimal cap penalties if released. His dead money is only $32,576.
While the Jets did carry Pennington, Ramsey, and Clemens in 2006 there would be little to gain from this situation now. Sanchez, if named the starter, would have an incredibly difficult time at home with a newly drafted prospect sitting on the bench. The home crowd was brutal to Sanchez is his last two home games and it got so bad the Jets pulled him against Arizona and did not play him in their home finale against the Chargers opting instead to play McElroy who was not ready for the speed of a NFL game on that day.
Logically the Jets should release Sanchez on Monday if they cant work a trade out for him on Saturday. It clears the books which is what the Jets are looking to do as they prepare to turn this all around in 2014, the same as the Raiders. John Idzik was around a situation last year where he had a mid priced QB in Matt Flynn, low cost rookie in Russell Wilson, and mid priced veteran in Tarvaris Jackson. That same situation to me would be Tebow, Garrard, and Geno Smith. One player is maintained after the summer and one is released or traded. Of course nothing would surprise me with the Jets and maybe the person to be cut is Tebow and the Jets hope they can still do something with Sanchez rather than to pay him while he plays elsewhere.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.